For Catholics who follow the traditional calendar, today marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Septuagesima. As noted by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre in the St. Andrew Daily Missal:
The Church, manifesting the divinity of Christ throughout the first part of the Ecclesiastical year, shows us in the second part what Our Lord has done to merit it for us and communicate it to us…
The Septuagesima season always begins with the ninth week before Easter and includes three Sundays called respectively Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima. These names…denote a series of decades working back from the commencement of Lent, which is known in Latin as Quadragesima.
In all of her liturgical wisdom Holy Mother Church has traditionally given the faithful this brief season as a prelude to Lent. Dom Lefebvre calls it a “prelude for the soul” which must transition from the joys of Christmas to the “stern penance” of the sacred forty days.
Catholics who attend the Traditional Latin Mass now see the priest don violet colored vestments in recognition of this time. In addition, the Alleluia and the Gloria are dropped from the Mass as the liturgy further prepares us for Lent.
Unfortunately, this season was abolished following Vatican 2 and is not found on the new calendar or within the Novus Ordo Mass of Paul VI. A season which dates back to at least the sixth century and the papacy of Saint Gregory the Great has disappeared for the vast majority of Catholics thanks to a small group of “reformers” led by Annibale Bugnini.
Thankfully, as more are introduced to the Traditional Mass of the Roman Rite, the brief season of Septuagesima is being reintroduced into the life of the Church. As this means more of the faithful can better prepare for, and enter deeper into, the season of Lent, it is an objectively positive development.
Take a few minutes to enjoy the video below courtesy of the Latin Mass Society and its chairman Dr. Joseph Shaw. As always, Dr. Shaw and his team educate us on the richness of our Catholic faith, while reminding us why we need this traditional season.
And may you have a truly fruitful Septuagesima.